Photos by Chris Todd Story by Robert Wilson
Jackson Prep soccer coach Jon Marcus Duncan won his 27th MAIS state championship Monday afternoon with a 2-0 victory over Jackson Academy for the Division I girls title at Madison-Ridgeland Academy.
But Duncan said winning a state title never gets old.
“There is nothing ho hum about winning a state title,” said Duncan, who won his 13th girls state title to go along with his 14 boys titles, the last 10 consecutive, in his 21 years at Prep. “I knew we had a great group coming back, losing only two starters from the starting 11 in last year’s state championship team. We had pretty wins and ugly wins, but they were wins. I’m glad we were able to complete the season when there was so much doubt about whether we would have a season because of COVID-19. The girls did a great job of staying on the course and it all paid off in the end with back to back state championships.”
Dylan Burkhalter scored for Prep in the first half and Olivia Sasser scored in the second half for Prep.
“I thought we were a little sloppy in the first half, maybe the magnitude of the game got in our heads a little bit,” Duncan said. “it was nice to get an early goal to take some of the pressure off. The second half we created more chances, but couldn’t finish until the second goal but at least we were threatening. Our defense was solid as they’ve been all year. Somewhat the backbone of the team, they made very few mistakes. Josie Duncan (Duncan’s daughter), Anders Morgan, Bradley Carter, Annie Jicka and KK Dausman all did a great job of stopping any scoring opportunities JA had. Credit to (JA) Coach (Phillip) Buffington and his girls. They made it very difficult on us today. They pressured us in tight situations and made it hard on us to change at the point of attack.”
Prep won its second consecutive state title and beat JA for the second straight season. JA won the last three state titles and had defeated Prep eight straight times, but Prep reversed the result for a 2-1 win in last year’s state title. Prep had defeated JA 2-0 in both regular season games this season.
Second-year JA coach Phillip Buffington lost to his alma mater in the championship game for the second straight year. Buffington, who was an assistant for three years before taking over for Robert Gardner last season, is considered one of the top boys players in Mississippi history. He set a Mississippi record with 61 goals his senior season for Prep in 2005. He led the Patriots to four straight state titles and was an eighth-grader in Duncan’s first year at Prep.
JA had won only one state title – under coach Nic Henderson in 2009 – before the three-year state title run from 2016-2018.
“This group of girls has shown incredible growth from when we started in July through the game today,” Buffington said. “I thought we played very well for most of the game today and a couple of slipups unfortunately cost us the first goal. More than anything I’m extremely proud of the way these girls fought in the game today and never gave up even after going down in the first half. We had a spark and looked like we could have finished a couple, but couldn’t get the ball in the net today.”